Pioneers of the ‘think global, act local’ outlook


The French, Italians and Spanish typically start their day with a pastry or bread and strong coffee. The Brits love a fry-up, while the Germans prefer cold cuts and cheese. Open-face sandwiches are popular in Sweden and chocolate sprinkles on toast in the Netherlands.

Breakfast choices vary so much and reveal a lot about you, as they depend on local produce and customs. It’s a good parallel with payments. These are varied and have been shaped by cultural, political, economic and technological factors. Payments can be as revealing about your origins as breakfast choices — perhaps more so.

New European travel payments report

The travel sector was among the first to realise this. They were the true pioneers of a ‘think global, act local’ outlook, as our recently-published European travel payments report, in association with Klarna, shows.

Airlines and hotels understood that while business was global, payment remained a local affair. To secure sales from overseas customers, they offered local payment options, such as bank-funded transfers, e-wallets and domestic debit brands.

To make customers feel at home wherever and however they spent, they priced in local currency and offered dynamic currency conversion (DCC) as standard. To capture maximum sales, they sold through travel agencies, tour operators and direct-to-customers.

Their far-sighted approach has paid dividends. Airline and hotel purchases account for around 15-25% of total e-commerce spend by value across the ten countries in the report. This ranges from one-lira or one-zloty-in-seven spent online in Turkey and Poland to one-krone-in-four in Norway.

Payment: a local affair

Our report includes e-commerce payment splits, details of popular local payment methods by country as well as e-commerce market sizing data, travel sector average transaction values etc. All indicators show that the online travel sector is growing in importance and global reach. Yet payment remains resolutely local.

Others could take a leaf out of the travel sector playbook. Don’t get caught out not being able to take local payments to close sales. Local payment work-arounds may work short-term. But if you’re making long-term, international investments, these work-arounds may not be stable or scale. It could all turn into a bit of a dog’s breakfast, to coin a phrase.

To find out more, download your copy of the European travel payment report 2019.